During the 1940s, the United States constructed a system of international order that depended on preponderant US economic and military power and bipolar division of the postwar world, in the context of the Cold War. This chapter discusses the evolution and operation of the postwar system and explains how, in the 1960s, it became destabilized. Its destabilization owed to the breakdown of Cold War politics, the relative decline of US military and economic capabilities, and the stirrings of globalization, which disrupted an international political and economic order organized around the territorial nation-state, the de facto unit of political order for a decolonizing world. Topics covered in this chapter include the Bretton Woods international monetary order, the Cold War military balance, and the evolution of American leadership within the Western Alliance.
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